You just haven’t felt yourself lately. Your breasts are tender, you feel tired, bloated and your heart seems to be working over time. You may even be feeling that you are coming down with something.
Wait. When was my last period??
You grab a pregnancy test at the nearest pharmacy and head home in anticipation. Is this it? You wait anxiously for the 2 minutes to creep slowly by as you watch the test window like a hawk preparing an attack on it’s prey…
You rub your eyes in shock and take a closer look.
…Well, now what?
It’s hard to know where to start! Here are some clear cut first steps to take as you prepare for your journey into pregnancy.
1. Call your Primary Care Physician.
Check in with your primary care physician to confirm your pregnancy with a blood test. When you talk to them, make sure to check about your current medications to see if you should still be taking them.
2. To Share or Not to Share? That is the question.
And there is no right or wrong answer. It can be incredibly hard not to tell your friends and family as soon as you find out you are pregnant, but I recommend trying not to post it to social media just yet – at least not publicly. Allow yourself some time to mentally adjust to the pregnancy, the upcoming birth, and the life changes that are soon to follow.
Some decide to keep their newly developing baby a secret for fear of a miscarriage. Or, they will decide to tell only a select few close family members or friends until the first trimester is over. The pregnancy is most vulnerable during the first 12 weeks, and after the first trimester, the chance of a miscarriage drops dramatically (down to 10% of all known pregnancies). If you decide to wait, for this reason, that is just fine.
And if you decide to announce your excitement to the world, that is fine too! Just make sure you do what you really feel is best for you.
3. Call the Midwife!
Or OB/GYN. Ask friends and family for recommendations for local recommendations if you do not have a prenatal or women’s care provider. You will want to know which OBGYNs and Midwives worked best with their patients and provided satisfactory experiences to women. Google their names and see what you can find out. We can also help to match you up with a care provider that may be suited to you best.
Choosing a primary care provider is likely one of the most important decisions of your entire pregnancy and you don’t need to determine who you’d prefer to work with right this very minute. Keep in mind that you are hiring your provider to provide you a service, so at the end of the day, you are in charge.
Like an apple a day, daily supplements can help give your baby the best start.
Ask your provider or general care doctor for a prescription for a prenatal multivitamin, preferably with DHA Omega -3s. Many medical insurance companies will cover prenatal vitamins in full, although fewer will cover a prenatal with DHA – the building block for the development of the brain, eyes, and heart. Don’t waste your money on over the counter vitamins if you don’t have to. Check with your insurance company to see what they will cover.
Folate is a supplement essential in DNA production, repair, and function. Studies show it can help prevent neural tube defects of the spinal cord and brain – such as spina bifida or anencephaly when taken before pregnancy through the first trimester. Some research suggests that folate may help lower your baby’s risk of other defects as well, such as cleft lip, cleft palate, and certain types of heart defects.
Research supporting Vitamin D’s role in immune function, healthy cell division, and bone health has been released(1). Vitamin D is necessary for the absorption and metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Many studies are finding a connection between low serum vitamin D levels and an increased risk of certain types of cancers, autoimmune disease, neurological disease, insulin resistance, and cardiovascular disease.
There is so much to know! DON’T WAIT until you are at the end of your pregnancy to research your pregnancy and birth options, and I encourage you to read evidence-based information.
Evidence based information:
Websites: Childbirth Connection, Evidence Based Birth, Birth Without Fear, Spinning Babies, and Mama Natural.
Books: Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth, Spiritual Midwifery, The Birth Partner, The Thinking Woman’s Guide to a Better Birth
Documentaries: The Business of Being Born I & II
Steer Clear of:
Websites: theBump, WebMD, BabyCenter, Parents.com, What To Expect and of course, Facebook.
Books: What to Expect When You Are Expecting, Your Pregnancy Week by Week, Becoming Baby Wise
TV: A Baby Story
Many women experience lethargy during the first weeks of pregnancy. It’s hard growing a baby; Your genetic map is being encoded and using the building blocks to create a little human and it’s nurturing placenta. So don’t apologize for allowing yourself to get some rest – you need it.
7. Seek a Doula
It’s never too early. A doula is not a medical professional but can help you navigate choices in the confusing medical world. She can share evidence based education to help you prepare for your birth. Many times as doulas, we hear “I wish I had you to talk to from the day I found out I was pregnant! Why did I wait so long?!”
Take a look at Improving Birth’s Fact Sheet on Doulas.
Congratulations on your pregnancy!